Report: Pennsylvania Forests Impacted By Drilling

English: Cropped portion of image from USGS re...

English: Cropped portion of image from USGS report showing extent of Marcellus Formation shale (in gray shading). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

PITTSBURGH (AP) — A small portion of Pennsylvania state forest land has been impacted by shale gas drilling, but many questions remain about how to manage the politically sensitive issue that is opposed by many residents, according to a new report.

The 268-page Department of Conservation and Natural Resources report issued this week concluded that “shale-gas production on state forest lands is neither benign nor catastrophic” and that there are clearly impacts and trade-offs.

“The question is what trade-offs are acceptable,” the report said.

The report found that about 1,486 acres of forest have been converted to various types of drilling-related development since 2008, including roads, well pads, and pipelines, out of about 2.2 million acres in the state forest system. That gas development resulted in 191 infrastructure pads and 104 miles of pipelines.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/news/pennsylvania/report-pennsylvania-forests-impacted-by-drilling/article_c98b8d73-66b5-52b5-b9f0-149d8d97c8a0.html

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Thousands Share In American Indian Culture At Final Powwow

Counties constituting the Happy Valley Region ...

Counties constituting the Happy Valley Region of Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 — To his knowledge, John Sanchez is the only American Indian faculty member at Penn State and when his kids were in the elementary and high school system, they were the only American Indian students.

Though he loves his job, Sanchez uses the annual traditional American Indian powwow as a way to recharge his batteries and interact with other Indians.

After this year, he will have to have to find another way to do that.

The 11th annual event took place at Mount Nittany Middle School on Saturday and Sunday, but Sanchez, the event coordinator, said it will be the last. Moving closer to retirement, Sanchez said the event planning takes too much time on top of his job teaching media ethics in the College of Communications and his distinguished professorship with the Schreyer Honors College.

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Poll: Those In NEPA Among Most Miserable In U.S.

Locator map of the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Metro...

Locator map of the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Metropolitan Statistical Area in the northeastern part of the of . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  Lancaster, PA ranked 21st on the list :)  The happiest of any Pennsylvania Metropolitan Area.  Hey now!

People in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre metropolitan area are among the most miserable in the nation, according to a report that ranks the area 177th out of 189 it surveyed to gauge residents’ sense of well-being.

Their continuing economic downslide, bad memories, misperceptions and even a lack of sunlight may play a part in Northeast Pennsylvanians’ gloomy outlook, some local experts say in commenting on the State of American Well-Being, the report released last week by Gallup and Healthways.

The highest-ranked area was Provo-Orem, Utah, and the lowest-ranked was the Huntington, W.Va.-Ashland, Ky. area. More than 178,000 people across the country were interviewed last year, including a sample size of 1,092 from the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area.

The survey asked people to rate their life evaluation – a combination of current situation evaluation and the anticipated situation in five years – emotional health, work environment, physical health, healthy behaviors and basic access to health care and other necessities.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/poll-those-in-nepa-among-most-miserable-in-u-s-1.1663838

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Pennsylvania Tax Burden Ranks 10th Nationally

Map of Pennsylvania

Map of Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pennsylvanians’ state and local tax burden reached its lowest point in more than a decade in 2011, but it still climbed to rank as the nation’s 10th most onerous, up two spots from the year before, an analysis released this week shows.

The Washington-based Tax Foundation said Pennsylvanians shelled out $4,374 per capita in state and local taxes in 2011, or 10.3 percent of their per-capita income of $42,268. About 10.5 percent of income went toward state and local taxes in 2010, the foundation said.

“This trend was largely driven by the growth of income,” said Tax Foundation economist Liz Malm, explaining the slight decline.

About 27 percent of Pennsylvanians’ tax money went to other states. Aside from sales, excise, income, corporate and other taxes paid in other states, the Tax Foundation factors what it calls tax exporting.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/adminpage/5882443-74/tax-state-taxes#ixzz2y3z5waOg
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Gov. Corbett Announces Hundreds Of Additional Projects Due To Transportation Plan

Map of Pennsylvania

Map of Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

HARRISBURG, PA – Gov. Tom Corbett today outlined more than 250 projects that will start work this year due to the state’s new transportation plan.

At least $2.1 billion will be invested into the state’s highway and bridge network — about $600 million more than what would have been available without the transportation bill Corbett signed last fall. Overall, more than 900 projects will get underway this year.

“This plan is creating safer roads, bridges and transit systems while at the same time saving 12,000 jobs and creating 50,000 new ones over the next five years – 18,000 jobs are expected to be created this year alone.” Corbett said. “We are putting these transportation investments to work quickly as we strive to build a stronger Pennsylvania both now and in the future.”

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/1301350/Gov.-Corbett-announces-hundreds-of-additional-projects-due-to-transportation-plan

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Tom Wolf, Candidate For Governor, Speaks At His Pottstown Alma Mater

POTTSTOWN, PA — Hill School alumnus and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf was on campus Saturday morning.

Wolf, a 1967 graduate, was invited to be a part of the school’s year-long speakers series focusing on integrity — the theme for 2013-2014 academic year.

Speaking to a packed house in the Center For The Arts building, Wolf used several abstract ideas to convey how integrity is important in life because, “the real world is the right world.”

He told students that “fairness, inclusion, trust and hope,” were all important in the real world and he came to that realization through his years in business, academia and volunteering with the Peace Corps.

Read more: http://www.timesherald.com/general-news/20140329/tom-wolf-candidate-for-governor-speaks-at-his-pottstown-alma-mater

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Patton Township Woman Charged With Heroin Distribution

Counties constituting the Happy Valley Region ...

Counties constituting the Happy Valley Region of Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A Patton Township woman was arrested Friday on heroin distribution charges.

Tiffany Ingram, 33, of Fredericksburg Court, was charged by the Office of Attorney General’s Bureau of Narcotics Investigation, according to a news release.

Ingram was charged along with Landare Hines, 37, after a search of his Harrisburg home, according to the news release. The bust was part of an ongoing investigation into the distribution of heroin in central Pennsylvania.

At the residence, agents seized 71 bags of heroin packaged for delivery and 11 grams of heroin not yet packaged for delivery, with a total street value of $12,420, according to the AG. They also seized approximately $1,600 in cash.

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Pennsylvania Turnpike To Raise Tolls In 2015

Pennsylvania Turnpike Ticket from the Warrenda...

Pennsylvania Turnpike Ticket from the Warrendale (30) Toll Stop. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pennsylvania Turnpike drivers can expect another toll increase of at least 3 percent next January, and continuing annual increases for years to come, turnpike CEO Mark Compton said Thursday.

Speaking at the annual meeting of the Airport Corridor Transportation Association, Mr. Compton said the state’s new transportation funding law has shortened, but not eliminated, the turnpike’s requirement to pay $450 million a year to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

Instead of continuing to 2057, the required payments will end after 2022, he said. Toll increases are needed to underwrite the debt incurred by the turnpike in making those payments.

In the past, PennDOT has directed $200 million from each payment to non-turnpike highway projects and $250 million to mass transit. The new law directs all of the $450 million to transit.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/news/transportation/2014/03/28/Pennsylvania-Turnpike-to-raise-tolls-in-2015/stories/201403280114#ixzz2xHOq34iN

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Many Fees For Pennsylvania Vehicles Set To rise On April 1

Several state vehicle-related fees will increase April 1 for the first time in 17 years, with a second group of fees slated to rise July 1.

The increases are mandated by Act 89, the transportation funding legislation that was approved by the Legislature and Gov. Tom Corbett in the fall.

“It’s important to note that Act 89 represents an investment in Pennsylvania’s future: increasing public safety, driving commerce, creating jobs and providing reliable funding for our transportation needs without leaving the bill to our future generations,” Pennsylvania Department of Transportation spokesman Rich Kirkpatrick said.

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/1277003/Many-fees-for-Pa.-vehicles-set-to-rise-on-April-1

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Pa., N.J. Lawmakers Launch Effort To Rein In Delaware River Port Authority

English: A shot from the Pyramid Club of the B...

English: A shot from the Pyramid Club of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge at night. First posted at: Brozzetti Gallery (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Republican legislators in Pennsylvania and New Jersey are planning a coordinated effort to change the Delaware River Port Authority and alter its federal charter.

Bills will be introduced in Harrisburg and Trenton to prohibit economic-development spending by the DRPA, give Pennsylvania’s governor the same veto authority over DRPA actions now held by New Jersey’s governor, and require state Senate confirmation of gubernatorial appointments to the DRPA board in Pennsylvania, as is now done in New Jersey.

The bills would also:

- Require a two-thirds majority of the board to approve any toll increases on the DRPA’s four toll bridges;

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/politics/20140326_Pa___N_J__lawmakers_launch_effort_to_rein_in_DRPA.html#b3cTW5MXkkoRHgws.99

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Police Cracking Down On Aggressive Drivers Across Pennsylvania

Map of Pennsylvania, showing major cities and ...

Map of Pennsylvania, showing major cities and roads (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

MONTGOMERY TWP, PA — Along Route 309 in Montgomery Township on Monday afternoon, lights from police cruisers flashed next to an orange “Aggressive Driving Enforcement” sign as every few minutes, a vehicle was directed to pull over by a contingent of township cops who were doling out citations for speeding, tailgating or other traffic infractions spotted moments earlier by officers stationed a half-mile up the road. It was part of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s ramped-up efforts — which began on Monday and lasts until May 4 — to crack down on a spectrum of illegal and dangerous driving habits in a big way across the state.

Boyertown police announced their aggressive driving details will continue through Sept. 14.

“We’re here today to raise awareness about the dangers of aggressive driving, and to target those drivers who are causing far too many crashes on the roadways,” said PennDOT spokesman Lou Belmonte at a Monday morning press conference inside the Montgomery Township Building, where he was joined by law enforcement officers and members of the Montgomery County Health Department and Buckle Up PA to announce the first wave of the PennDOT-funded 2014 Pennsylvania Aggressive Driving Enforcement and Education Project).

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20140325/police-cracking-down-on-aggressive-drivers-across-pa

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Wilkes-Barre, Other Pennsylvania River Towns Hit Hard By Flood Insurance Rates

HARRISBURG, PA — Jeff King had put his house in Wilkes-Barre up for sale for $90,000 last year, put off by the city’s struggles with crime and the desire for a better school district for his four children, when he got a surprise: The prospective buyer discovered that her annual flood insurance premium would be $7,015, higher than 12 months of mortgage payments.

Even though President Barack Obama signed a law Friday to ease the sharpest premium increases for policyholders receiving subsidies from the National Flood Insurance Program, King is resigned to never selling the house, which is about a mile-and-a-half from the Susquehanna River. The writing, he said, is on the wall.

“Any educated buyer is going to stay clear from a home in the flood area,” King said.

Across Pennsylvania, with an estimated 86,000 miles of creeks, streams and rivers, the premium increases could deliver a gut punch to the state’s legion of old river cities and towns still struggling to recover from the loss of their industrial core.

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/w-b-other-river-towns-hit-hard-by-rates-1.1655882

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Super-Size Gas Stations Stir Hostility

The typical gas station of yesterday is a shell of what one looks like today.

Gas stations are twice the size, with more pumps; some have full-service restaurants, small grocery stores and 24-hour operations.

More convenience stores sell gas, too — a 14.2 percent increase to 126,658 locations from 2005 to 2014, according to the National Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing in Alexandria, Va.

In some communities, these mega-stations are hang-out spots on the weekends for the post-nightclub crowd — and they are attracting more opposition in the planning stages from residents who are leery of more traffic, noise, crime and bright lights.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/5724398-74/gas-station-stations#ixzz2wkRXN8TE
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Wind Energy’s Viability Trumpeted In Volatile Market

English: Taken by Neutronic

English: Taken by Neutronic (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pennsylvania’s 700 commercial wind turbines loom large along ridges, but their number and size belie their contribution to electricity generation.

Despite government subsidies, technological advancements that improved the turbines’ efficiency, and environmental advantages over burning fossil fuels, wind energy provided just 1.5 percent of the state’s electricity last year and less than 4 percent of the nation’s.

“In Pennsylvania it’s pretty anemic,” said Gregory Reed, a University of Pittsburgh professor who directs the Electric Power Initiative and is associate director of the school’s Center for Energy.

State law requires 18 percent of electricity must come from alternative fuel sources and renewables such as wind, solar and hydropower by 2021.

Read more: http://triblive.com/business/headlines/5415886-74/wind-pennsylvania-energy#ixzz2w5Fb48vJ
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Drug Overdose Deaths Spur Legislation

Map of Pennsylvania

Map of Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

HARRISBURG, PA – Concerns about a spate of drug overdose deaths in Pennsylvania have put the spotlight on legislation to create a state database to monitor illegal use of prescription drugs.

The issue surfaced last month during state Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane’s budget hearing before the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Passage of monitoring legislation is key to combatting illegal drug use, Kane said. Prescription drug abuse is often a gateway to heroin use, she said.

“We have a heroin problem,” Kane said. “We also have a prescription pill problem.”

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/drug-overdose-deaths-spur-legislation-1.1647566

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Pittsburgh-Area Leaders Expected To Back Tom Wolf

Tom Wolf, the Democratic front-runner in the race for governor, will be in town Saturday to showcase high-profile endorsements from Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and possibly other local elected officials.

Neither the county executive nor the mayor would comment on the development, which was confirmed by those involved in discussions with the candidate. It wasn’t clear what other officials might join them at the weekend announcement.

Mr. Fitzgerald and Mr. Peduto are part of a group of local officials who have had ongoing discussions about the possibility of a group endorsement from senior Democrats in the region. U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Forest Hills, has been part of those discussions and one figure familiar with the endorsement conversation said he expected the congressman to be there as well.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/news/politics-state/2014/03/07/Local-leaders-expected-to-back-Wolf/stories/201403070108#ixzz2vKAKRu4u

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Acme Parent Company Buys Safeway for $9 Billion

Acme Markets’ corporate parent, the Albertsons grocery-store chain, on Thursday purchased Safeway Inc., for about $9 billion.

Albertsons is controlled by an investor group led by Cerberus, a New York-based private-equity firm. Other investors included Philadelphia-based Lubert-Adler Partners, Kimco Realty Corp., Klaff Realty L.P., and Schottenstein Real Estate Group.

With the purchase of Safeway, the group will now control about 2,400 grocery stores, making it one of the largest chains in the country.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20140307_Acme_parent_company_buys_Albertsons_for__9B.html#yfZ07Jksrr6jsbWd.99

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State College Police: Criminal Activity Down Again On State Patty’s Day

Counties constituting the Happy Valley Region ...

Counties constituting the Happy Valley Region of Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

STATE COLLEGE, PA — Police activity on the Penn State student-created drinking holiday State Patty’s Day was down for the third consecutive year, State College police Lt. Bradley Smail said Sunday.

Police said late Sunday that initial numbers indicate total crime was down 47 percent and arrests decreased 61 percent. Smail said the activity was more in line with a typical football weekend than the normally damaging day of drinking.

“We didn’t have a whole lot of destructive behavior,” Smail said anecdotally, in comparison to previous years.

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In Happiness Rankings, Pennsylvania Feeling Kinda Blue

Map of Pennsylvania

Map of Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

HOW YOU feeling, Bunkie? Something got you down?

In the annual Gallup poll measuring Americans’ sense of well-being, also known as the happiness poll, Pennsylvania was No. 36 in 2013, down sharply from 29 the year before. (Thank you, Gov. Corbett?) Since Philadelphians are the single biggest geographic group of Pennsylvanians, our civic angst probably drags down the ranking.

We have a schools crisis and send in a hothead as a healer. Crime by criminals is down but crime by cops is up. Buildings collapse, water mains explode, the mayor adds deputy mayors and bike lanes. Poverty is up, employment is down, as are the Phillies, Sixers and Flyers. No wonder we’re not happy.

Do I hear laughter from across the river?

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20140303_Don_t_be_glum__chum.html#yTgJ8HAsd3rKLEHi.99

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Pennsylvania Community College Leaders Make Funding Case In Harrisburg

Harrisburg, PA — Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) President Dr. Karen A. Stout testified before the Pa. House Appropriations Committee in Harrisburg on Feb. 20 on the issue of community college funding for Fiscal Year 2014-15. She joined Pa. Commission for Community Colleges (PACCC) President and CEO Elizabeth A. Bolden and Butler County Community College President Dr. Nick Neupauer, who also serves as PACCC’s Board Chairman.

Together the three leaders testified about the critical need for increased operating and capital funding for the Commonwealth’s 14 community colleges. Governor Corbett’s proposed FY 14-15 budget does not include any increase in the community college operating appropriation. If approved, this will be the fourth consecutive year of flat funding in operating following a 10 percent funding cut five years ago. Allowing for inflation, the recommended appropriation is $12 million below the necessary level.

During her testimony, Dr. Stout revealed that, if the proposed budget is passed, MCCC will receive less in operating dollars in FY 14-15 than eight years ago.

“The operating efficiencies used to manage these cuts have already been implemented, and gains from them already realized and exhausted,” she said in her testimony. “Even modest tuition increases are difficult for our students to manage. Last year, we deregistered more than 2,500 students for non-payment. Approximately half return to us at some point, but half are shut out of higher education, even with Pell and PHEAA grants.”

Three MCCC students – Octavia Beyah, Tyler Tucker and Elizabeth Waddell – accompanied Dr. Stout to Harrisburg to lend their support to Pennsylvania’s community colleges.

Beyah, a first-generation college student, is funding her own education. She started her journey at a four-year university, but reverse transferred to MCCC to graduate without debt. Likewise, Tucker chose to attend MCCC to balance life and work to avoid early debt; she aspires to be an appellate court judge. And Waddell comes from a single parent household and acknowledges that education tends to go on the “back burner” when living paycheck to paycheck.

“Students like Octavia, Tyler and Elizabeth build the economic and civic capacity of our community, one dream fulfilled at a time,” shared Dr. Stout in her testimony.

Stout went on to share how the economic impact of MCCC’s students extends to all Pennsylvania residents. For example, taxpayers, see a return rate of 7.2 percent on their investment, and every one dollar of state and local tax money invested in the College yields a cumulative $21.60 in benefits that accrue to all Pennsylvania residents in terms of added taxable income and avoided social costs.

“Fifty years ago, a group of visionary State and local leaders from across the Commonwealth passed the Community College Act, and with it, a commitment to invest in the hopes, dreams and aspirations of hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians to access affordable, high quality, transfer education and workforce training programs that could lead them into the middle class and thus build the quality of life and civic development and economic competitiveness of Pennsylvania. Over these 50 years, nearly 400,000 Montgomery County residents have benefitted from access to these programs. The ripple effect of those attending – on our community – is multi-generational,” shared Dr. Stout.

In addition to restoring operating funds, Bolden and PACCC asked the House Appropriations Committee for capital funding to be increased in order to address the $726 million in documented infrastructure improvements for the State’s 14 community colleges over the next five years.  As it stands now, the Governor’s proposed budget calls for a $1 million cut in capital.

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